Harmonikids Sessions in Houston Texas
16 June, 2015
Bruce Elementary School and Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, TX
On May 21, 2015 I provided two Hohner sponsored Harmonikids sessions to two facilities in Houston, Texas. The first was coordinated by the Houston Blues Society and provided educational outreach to 50 schoolchildren in an economically challenged area of the city. Many of these participants are recent refugees from Africa. The second session was to a dozen patients and family members at the Texas Childrens Hospital. In each case the participants were entertained then gifted harmonicas and taught to play four songs.
Both sessions were rousing successes leaving the kids very enthusiastic and proud of their newly discovered musical ability. Harmonikids programs provide the therapeutic joy of learning music while elevating children's self esteem and confidence at a crucial time in their lives. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the many benefits the youth gained from these experiences is to share the following inspirational feedback received from the coordinators at each respective facility.
Harmonikids Founding Director
Thank you, Gary Allegretto, Houston Blues Society, and Hohner Harmonicas! What an unforgettable and inspiring experience our young scholars at Bruce Elementary had today listening, learning and playing music. I thought the class had just the right balance of teaching, historical context, musical performance, and interaction with the students. Also, since we have a population of recent immigrants and political refugees from Africa at our school, they were especially impressed by your teaching about the origins of the blues from African music and slavery, through westward expansion and the railroad (Gary, do you need a side gig as a Social Studies teacher?). Our grade level teachers are reporting that the students who attended your workshop already want to practice and give a mini harmonica concert for their classmates!
The children are so excited to have their shiny new Hohner harmonicas, and the ability to play them already. For many of our students, this harmonica may be the only new possession that is their very own, so I know they will treat it with special care. Thank you again for teaching and inspiring our students, and providing them with something special that I hope will last a lifetime."
B.K. Bruce Elementary Music Magnet
Houston Independent School District
Gary handed out music sheets and harmonicas to a class that included a high proportion of children from underprivileged backgrounds and, in a surprisingly short space of time, had them eagerly playing the rudiments of a number of popular blues tunes. It was truly inspiring to witness this seasoned educator at work and putting so much energy into passing on his love of the music to a new generation, and so gratifying to the see the joy in their faces as they became aware of what they could accomplish on this tiny, yet profoundly important, instrument. Before the class was over, the youngsters all took the "harmonica oath" before heading off to new adventures with their very own music-makers in hand - a wonderful experience indeed!"
President, Houston Blues Society
Thank you so much for your visit. Although the group was small it was apparent that you were making the day easier for many of our families. The two siblings were great, they had been here all day while their brother was receiving treatment and to give them an opportunity to participate in a program that had nothing to do with medicine was wonderful. I loved that as you were leaving we could hear one of them playing songs! I am also glad you were able to work with the little girl in the wheelchair, you could tell that her mom was so happy to see her participate in an activity. The volunteering group of nursing students learned a new skill as well and left with the knowledge of the importance of arts in a healthcare setting. There were children that were not even participating who were actively listening. Thanks again for taking the time to share your time and talent with our patients and their families."
Arts In Medicine Program Coordinator